Looking back, looking forward: Week 3

With three days of coursing and four meetings over the weekend there’s plenty to reflect upon and read over this week and with 6 meetings scheduled over the next week there’s plenty of previews to be written!

Reflecting on last weekend’s action the standout performance has to be Skellig Sunlight winning the Morrissey Cup in Cashel. Expectations were high for the regally bred Sunlight in spite of his failure to win a Trial Stake last season but he made no mistake posting the fastest clocks in every round beating some very good dogs, Hi Black Jack, Central Adviser and Kingsmill Rover, before taking care of business against Cooga Darlan in the final. He could well be a real player in Champion Stakes and Irish Cup terms if last weekend’s performances are any representation of his future form.

There was a great day for the Dundalk club at the Westmeath United meeting yesterday as members claimed both the Derby and Oaks Trial Stakes. Judiligence, a son of Adios Alonso and Notindispute, a Champion Bitch Stake semi-finalist, got the better of Fingal Kal for the Callans. In the Oaks Trial Stake, the Heeney’s were successful as Bakers Cailin got the better of the Farrelly’s bitch Dale Asgard in the final. That’s two less dogs to worry about for anyone thinking of heading to the Trial Stakes in Dundalk at Christmas!

Lochbo Vicky rounded off a fantastic week for the Spillanes as she claimed the All Age Bitch Stake in Regional getting  the better of Magical Amber in the final. If the clocks on the ICC website are to be believed (there’s some times I have my doubts!) then she was the fastest bitch throughout beating both ante-post favourites en-route to  claiming the honours. This is the third stake success for the litter with Lochbo Charlie proving the ‘top dog’ in Glin last weekend and Gurteen Vince, a TS winner in Mallow last season, just falling short in the final of the Cup at Regional yesterday.

In Kerry, at the Ballyheigue meeting, Maggie Dan continued a good start to the season for sire March Is On posting another stake success. Maggie becomes the second member of her litter to win this season with litter sister Turning Pace also proving successful. In Liscannor on the opening weekend Believeicanfly also won All Age Bitch honours, while Gripwell Candy took the Oaks ticket. From limited matings March Is On is certainly performing well this season.

Looking ahead to this weekend and there are plenty of big name runners re-appearing. The most notable are at Edenderry with Kilkeale Hero and Central Investor both making re-appearances at the field were they claimed their Trial Stakes. Hero is attempting to win the Cup in Edenderry for the second consecutive season while Investor, so unlucky in Clonmel, will be hoping to repeat his form of 12 months ago.

In Loughrea, a competitive field has been assembled for the Connacht Cup with Mr Blonde making a quick re-appearance after reaching the semi-finals of the Desmond Cup. Hi Black Jack also re-appears just 7 days after competing in Cashel, while Crafty Yahoo completes an interesting looking top half. The bottom half sees Echo Johnny and Wheres Cranny return while Highland Heather and Barkatthemoon could make it a very interesting draw.

Crohane sees Call Her Dresden aim to pick up her first silverware of the season in the All Age Bitch Stake, with Call Him Bale and Irish Cup quarter-finalist Wyken Power set to contest the Slievenamon Cup. Also in attendance will be last year’s winner Marshals MercuryNeedham Marie and Ballarue New return next Monday in New Ross while two of last seasons most unlucky dogs Kingsmill Vibe and Ashmore King are due to take part in the Corn Ros Mhic Treoin.

Looking back, looking forward- Week 2

Sunday saw three more dogs book their places at Clonmel 2015 as Glin and Ennis held their annual meetings. While I couldn’t make it to Glin yesterday, all the reports from those who were present were overwhelmingly complimentary of the new set up at the county Limerick venue.

The club should be commended for their foresight and ambition on taking on the creation of a new field. While I’m sure the photographs don’t do the new Glin field justice, what I did see was extremely impressive. It’s just a pity that such a fantastic facility is only in use three times a year!

On the coursing, it was pleasing to see the connections of Lochbo Charlie claim the Desmond Cup. Having to sit out the National Meeting last season must have been an extremely frustrating experience but Charlie has begun to show that he might well have mixed it with the best of what Powerstown had to offer. For the Spillanes to enjoy a double on the day, claiming an Oaks Trial Stake ticket would have been very pleasing for them.

The other Derby and Oaks tickets claimed by Somelittlelord (Glin DTS) and Miss Buttons (Ennis OTS) saw two of the country’s leading breeding powerhouses get their first Trial Stake winners of the season. Somelittlelord gave the Fieldings a first Trial Stake winner for their first time dam Moat Lady. Given that Somelittlelord’s sister also reached the Oaks Trial Stake final in Glin, the Fieldings could well have another exceptional brood on their hands.

Miss Buttons proved to be a Trial Stake winner for Skellig Beag. The daughter of Rith Gan Gaisce has proven to be a useful brood for the O’Driscoll kennel producing Cup winners Skellig Way and Skellig Sunrise, and throwing a Trial Stake winner in the form of Team Tyson and a very interesting contender this season, Crushers Johnny.

Speaking of Crushers Johnny, he makes his seasonal reappearance this season at Cashel in what looks to be a scorching hot Cup. There’ll be more about that tomorrow night but he’s joined by Central Adviser, Kingsmill Rover, Hi Black Jack, Coshair Slane and some very decent third season dogs. It looks sure to be the highlight of the weekend.

The Belsize Cup in Westmeath usually throws up a good winner and there are some very exciting looking competitors in the stake with Wood Dynamo and Dealbhna Mor two promising looking competitors, though they could well meet in the last eight!

Looking back, and forward

No sooner are the results in on a Sunday afternoon coursing people start to look forward. The most popular questions asked on Greyhound Nuts, Twitter or Facebook aren’t usually about that days action rather they tend to focus on the draw for upcoming weekends. Sometimes though it’s good to look back and reflect.

By and large the season has gotten off to a fairly subdued start. Worries about the ground appear to be hitting entries with stakes that usually fill comfortably being reduced in number compared to previous years. Even at grounds were every effort has been made to water fields, the driest September in nearly 50 years has left owners and trainers slightly nervous about running dogs.

Yesterday saw a good start in Kilflynn for the connections of Floating Patriot who claimed the Cup from Must Name Him. Patriot’s accomplishment is made all the more impressive when you consider that he beat 4 Trial Stake winners from last season (City Leader, Gurteen Vince, Call Him Bale and Must Name Him) to win the Cup. Having claimed the 6 points he’s already very well placed for a position in the Champion Stakes and given the nature of his victory yesterday you wouldn’t want to bet against him winning again.

Also making an impressive start to the season was Kitty Butller winner, Turning Pace, who showed that the 6 times up Powerstown Park had little affect on her appetite. The daughter of March Is On will certainly be one of the leading fancies for the Champion Bitch Stake and she’ll be fancied to win wherever she goes next.

In Liscannor, Believeicanfly was well touted by Tony O’Connor in the Sporting Press during the week and she delivered the silverware getting the better of Kates Shoes in the final. She added to what was a good weekend for March Is On with his second All Age success.

Looking ahead to this weekend, the Desmond Cup will undoubtedly take top billing with Mr Blonde pencilled in to make is seasonal return at the meeting where he announced himself as a genuine contender last season. He looks the class of the field but there are a number of dogs who could well spring a surprise. Lochbo Charlie makes his first appearance since winning his Trial Stake, while Glenlough Mick, High Garden and Sturdyandstaunch could all be dangerous.

The bitch stake sees a strong field compete for the points with Garrys Secret, Careful Betty and Sullane Jess among others run while Fancy Rae Baker makes her first appearance since winning the Trial Stake in Edenderry almost 12 months ago.

In Ennis-Clarecastle Grayacre Star makes his first appearance of the season having run well at the Irish Cup and in the Champion Stakes last season. India Rio appears once again for a fourth season while Toms Wizard might well be one to keep an eye on in the bottom half.

 

Good week- Bad week

Having had a couple of days to reflect on the National Meeting I thought I’d come up with a list of people who enjoyed good weeks and bad weeks at the National Meeting aside from the obvious Derby/ Oaks/ Champion Stakes winners.

Good Week

Turning Pace

Strictly speaking a winner, but one who’s been a little overlooked. This lady came from a litter (March Is On ex Big Maggie) that really caught my eye in Ballyheigue earlier in the season. On that occasion Turning Pace and two litter sisters reached the Oaks Trial Stake semi-final in a stake won by Bower Lucy. She reached two finals before winning in Abbeyfeale and winning the Kitty Butler here was a tremendous achievement. Turning Pace proved herself to be an Iron Lady this season winning 21 of 25 courses, including five runs up Powerstown Park. Quite the feat.

Freshford Coursing Club

Most clubs are honoured to have one Derby winner in a generation (there are 70+ clubs after all). But Freshford have had two Derby Trial Stake winners claim the Classic in consecutive years is something that’s almost unprecedented in recent years.

East Donegal Coursing Club

The Lifford club have the distinction of being the only club to stage, not one, but two meetings each season. The record of these meetings producing top quality dogs over recent years has also been excellent, most notably Derby winners Go Home Hare and Central City won at the field before their classic success (in Central’s case it was an All Age Cup he won). It can be no fluke then that the meeting produced not one but two of the semi-finalists in the Derby in Light Duty and Fingal Master.

Moat Belle

Of all the feats over the course of the week, that one bitch has thrown two Oaks winners and a Champion Bitch Stake winner in two season’s is remarkable. The Fieldings in Mooncoin never managed to win any silverware on the field with her but she’s proving to be the top  brood in the country over the past couple of years.

 

Not such a great week

Slippers

I’m not writing this to crib about any one slip or incident. The slippers had a difficult job over the three days, particularly on the Saturday with the hares being taken offline in the wind and driving rain. However the lack of consistency in the length of slips was a real talking point at Powerstown particularly on the Sunday and Monday. There were straight ups and there were slips so short the ray timer wasn’t broken. Hopefully better weather can see things improve next year.

Punters

There will be one or two exceptions here but by and large the bookmakers got the best of the exchanges. Not only were the ante-post favourites in both Derby and Oaks gone by the final morning (the second morning in the case of the Derby) but  the Oaks winner could have been backed at 8-1  before coursing on Monday morning and the Champion Stakes was unheralded throughout.

Skelligs move clear as Champions Stakes race bunches up

Skellig Eoin and Skellig Way have a clear lead in the race to the Champion Stakes in Clonmel with the pair having clinched two Cups to date this season. Mission Approved was today’s big mover winning the O’Connor- O’Carroll Cup in Lixnaw.

Champion Stakes

Dog Points
Skellig Way 10
Skellig Eoin 8
Latest Trick 6
Man Of War 6
Screwdriver 6
Mission Approved 6
Austerity 4
Ballinbola Road 4
Barefoot Magnus 4
Central Phoenix 4
Colla Eoin 4
Cuine Boy 4
Earl Of Thomond 4
Glenlea Sonny 4
Grayacres Star 4
Here Comes Harry 4
Kilkeale Hero 4
Kyle Leigh 4
Lochbo Bob 4
Marshals Mercury 4
Mr Blonde 4
Skellig Sunrise 4
Wyken Power 4
Central Swinger 4
Fee Fontaine 4
Spruce Bolt 4
In Cahoots 4
Belfast Boy 4
Dangerousredhead 4
Hopes and Dreams 4
Droopys Bestie 4

Grace Bruton Champion Bitch Stake

Eggemalong was today’s big mover in the Grace Bruton Champion Bitch Stake ladder as she moved onto 6 points. Duchess returns to action in Loughrea this week for the Galway and Oranmore meeting to try and extend her lead.

Bitch Points
Duchess 8
Lochbo Zola 6
Skellig Tivoli 6
Eggemalong 6
Beautys Grace 4
Blades of Steel 4
Chow Chow 4
Dependable 4
Gowayoudat 4
Hollyhill Marlyn 4
Lizs Touch 4
Minorcas Flyer 4
Moat Missy 4
Smokey Symbol 4
Yukon Glory 4
Woodenstown Me 4
Lady Casanova 4
Bucks Honey 4
Quarrymount Gaga 4